For years, I have wanted to go to the infamous San Diego Comic Con. The ultimate nexus of all things pop culture. This year, thanks to my cousin agreeing to go with me, I made my way. This is the account of my 4-day experience at the center of all things nerd.
Friday was the day that tested me. My cousin and I went our separate ways that day, as she went to tackle Hall H to see the Veronica Mars panel, and I tried my hand at the double whammy of the Nikita signing and panel. It was an early morning to get to the convention centre for the WB autograph signings. I had read a tweet the night before saying to get in line at 6:30 A.M; turns out that meant they were going to start the ticket raffle for your chance at wristbands at 6:30. I didn’t stand a chance. After finding out that all the wristbands for the Nikita signing were taken, I still stayed in line in hopes of maybe getting something else. My plan B, C and D were all gone by the time I reached the door. Lesson learned for next year!
With my attempt at getting autographs a bust, I made my way over to the lineup for room 6BCF, where the Nikita panel would be taking place. While in line, I met a fellow Nikita fan who had done the Con before, and helped me in my quest to properly meet any of the Nikita cast members. The unfortunate part of lining up so early ahead of a panel you want to see is that you’ll be sitting through panels you didn’t necessarily have in your plans. On the flip side, by sitting through these other panels, you get exposed to different things you didn’t know about. The panel I took in while waiting for Nikita was Stan Lee’s World of Heroes. Yup, I got to see Stan Lee in person. Also, did I mention that I was sitting in the second row?! World of Heroes is a YouTube channel featuring a multitude of different shows, and obviously with a focus on the nerd. For me, it was really cool to see/learn the type of programming and videos on YouTube that you wouldn’t necessarily have known about. I mean, it’s YouTube – there are A LOT of videos.
After Stan Lee, was my moment of truth – the NIKITA panel! For three years, I have tried and failed miserably to meet the cast in Toronto (and the rare time that they’ve filmed in Cambridge), so to sit no more than 10 feet away from my favourite people ever was a big deal! I was sitting there in awe of being in front of Maggie, Shane, Lyndsy, Aaron, Melinda, Noah, and Craig. I was so excited to hear them talk and just be in their presence that I almost didn’t know what to do with myself. And then they started asking for fan questions. Let’s remember here that I am an awkward person, who doesn’t talk a lot. Before the panel (I’m talking days), I tried thinking of one REALLY good question I could potentially ask. While in that panel, my sense of fear of embarrassing myself started sinking in. Then at some point, I got up the nerve and just said to myself “F*ck this! I’m going up there! This will probably be my only chance to talk to them!” The fear and panic came back when the person in front of me essentially asked the same question I was about to, so I had to think quickly on my feet. Let it also be known that I sometimes don’t do well under extreme pressure (it’s why I always hated tests in school). So there I was standing at the mic, trying to get my words together to talk to this cast whom I have complete love and respect for. This is what went down:
Me: “Hi my name is Thi. I’m actually from Toronto and I have been dying to meet you guys for three years…”
Lyndsy (I’m fairly certain. It all seemed so surreal to be talking to them and to have them even acknowledging my existence): “And you came all the way here to see us?! Aww! ”
Me: “YES! I came here to see you!”
Melinda: “Don’t worry we’ll be back Monday!”
Me: *laughing nervously, trying to collect myself* “So we know you guys obviously love hanging out together offset, any favourite memories from behind the scenes? Offscreen?”
To which Aaron answers first by saying they’re all just on Twitter when they’re not filming and then Lyndsy and Maggie start talking about all the dogs around set. After asking my question, I stepped to the side to hear their answer and not really knowing what to do I started going back to my seat before they even finished. (Toldya I was awkward…) When the panel ended, lots of people rushed to the front to get autographs/pictures from the cast before they left. My new friend on the other hand, rushed me to get out of the panel room. I wasn’t sure why but I followed her anyway. Turns out she was leading me to the door where the cast was exiting the panel room and heading into a break room (I think that’s what it was because they weren’t in there for long?). Before I knew it, Lyndsy was standing right in front of me, and just as I was going in for a picture with her (which she was totally nice about), Jeff Tobler, their PR guy rushed her away saying that they were on a tight schedule. So we waited by the break room for the cast to come by again and when Maggie came through, my friend yells out “Can she [pointing to me] get a picture? She’s the one from Toronto!” We could honestly see Maggie thinking about it, but then she had to apologize that she couldn’t because they had to go and were being rushed out to meet with press. I understood but at the same time, I couldn’t help but think “Screw the press! You’ve got fans here who want to meet you!” (I am sorry to all those critics/journalists/members of the press whom I respect dearly. I was being a selfish fan.)
The whole Nikita experience behind me, I parted ways with my friend and made my way to the line for Ballroom 20, the second largest panel room. I knew ahead of time that there was no way I’d make it into the Agents of SHIELD panel (too popular for its own good, being a new show and all lol), but waited out the length of that panel to get in for what came after it. As expected, as soon as SHIELD let out (which I honestly was disappointed to not get to see that pilot), I made my way into B20 and settled in for a row of consecutive panels. The Following was first and they started it off by showing a video clip of the final minutes from the season finale and what happened after the screen went black, revealing the fate of Kevin Bacon’s Ryan and Natalie Zea’s Claire. I’m not one to spoil things for others, but I must say just seeing that end moment again, I had the same feelings I had when I watched it the first time. Then seeing it fully play out? That was a great bonus. What I love about seeing these panels is that you get some sense into not only what’s ahead for the next season, but also how the producers and cast felt about the previous season. After it’s highly buzzed about pilot episode, anyone who saw the show through its first season run can attest to a feeling of exasperation that the FBI were always a couple steps behind Joe Carroll and his cult. Executive producer Kevin Williamson admittedly said that he recognizes that the FBI were a little dumb last season and promises that in season two, with a one year time jump, the show will focus less on the FBI and more on the characters.
After The Following was a panel that I was really excited about, and that is for Almost Human, a new show from Joel Wyman, J.J. Abrams, and Bryan Burk. The panel included a screening of the pilot (which for the record, it is totally awesome to get to see something months in advance), followed by a short Q&A. My initial thought on the pilot is that like the Fringe pilot, it isn’t perfect but it certainly sets up everything needed to continue on with the series and hooks you in. Wyman even said himself that the show came about partially because he “wanted to keep Fringe fans happy.” Watching it, you do get the sense that the show was created by the same people who worked on Fringe, between the futuristic sci-fi elements and the mixture of procedural and mythology, with a dash of humour/light moments, but it is its own show. The panel talked about how the show will examine all things technical, but that for the series to work, everything comes back to the human condition, and seeing how human beings deal with the relations of the future. I would highly recommend seeing this show when it premieres in the fall.
Breaking from the typical show panel, next up was TV Guide’s Fan Favorites panel, their yearly tradition of bringing stars of a multitude of shows, new and old to just talk. When this panel was initially announced for this year, among the panelists were Yvonne Strahovski, Candice Accola, and Katie Cassidy, whom I was really excited about seeing (especially Yvonne!), but as it came closer, others were added and those three were unfortunately not going to be on the panel. The final crew of panelists included: Blair Underwood (Ironside), Henry Ian Cusick (The 100), Emily Bett Rickards (Arrow), Giancarlo Esposito (Revolution), Kristin Bauer (True Blood), Tyler Hoechlin (Teen Wolf), Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead), Clark Gregg (SHIELD), Julie Plec (EP of The Vampire Diaries), and Joseph Morgan (The Originals). As far as the panel itself, it was fun hearing all these actors talk about their various characters and what not. Some fun moments:
- Clark Gregg knowing very well of the audience in front of him; elicits cheers just from dropping names (of people, shows, movies) – Buffy, Firefly, Thor, The Avengers, Much Ado About Nothing. After a while, he had to stop himself from talking, just so time wasn’t wasted on us cheering at everything he said ahaha.
- Kristin Bauer, who is honestly, always a fan fave, talks about how relationships are tested this season on True Blood. Seeing how well it worked out for Clark, she decides for good measure just to namedrop Alexander Skarsgard (It worked. We cheered.)
- Giancarlo Esposito decides to use his time to plug the premieres of Revolution and Breaking Bad, and briefly talks about his return to Once Upon A Time, where his character Sidney will be going back to that world to win back Regina.
- Stating the obvious, moderator Debra Birnbaum of TV Guide asks Emily Bett Rickards if her character Felicity has a crush on Oliver – “Come on, Oliver Queen. Stephen Amell.”
- Blair Underwood, there to promote his new NBC show Ironside comes to the conclusion that “Maybe we should add some vampires or zombies”
Last panel of the day (for me) was the Joss Whedon panel. Turns out, Whedon does this every year and it is pretty much him answering fan questions for an hour. Fun! I honestly didn’t take many notes during the panel, because I (like everybody else) was very much basking in the presence of awesomeness. I mean, this man gave us the legacy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Dollhouse, and then moved onto to pretty much controlling the Marvel movie empire when he directed The Avengers. If us nerds needed to name someone as our master/king/god, Joss Whedon would probably be it (to be fair, it’s probably a toss up between Whedon and Stan Lee, but that’s another discussion). But I digress, it was really cool to hear Whedon talk so openly answering fan questions like that. Among the topics brought up (from what I can recall):
- Since tackling a Shakespeare adaptation, after the heavy action of The Avengers, what other film genre would Whedon like to take on? Anything, except the family drama. And yes, that does include a musical (outside of Dr. Horrible). Dance battle over a special effects action sequence? Why not?
- On whether he’d revisit Wonder Woman (Whedon, at one point in time, wrote a script for a new WW. Nothing was made of it.)? No. He doesn’t like going backwards, and would much rather go forward doing other things.
- On the topic of remakes/adaptations – He thinks that Hollywood needs to get more creative, put out more original content. Realizes the irony of that, being someone who just did The Avengers and Much Ado About Nothing, but talks about how if they keep going on this cycle of remake of a remake, they’re gonna run out of movies to remake.
- On whether he can actually be a feminist, without being female – He doesn’t care. He thinks feminism is more about equality, rather than a perspective. Awesome words from the man who has given us so many strong female characters in pop culture.
[UPDATE] After much prodding by Nikita fans, The WB has finally uploaded the panel in full. So I get to remember my full on awkwardness forever.